State’s failure to register and keep a proper record of domestic migrant labourers in Kerala has been brought to the fore as a recent study by scholars at the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation show there may be at least 25 lakh migrant labourers in Kerala, most of them not being recorded anywhere in the State.
The study was carried out on behalf of the State Labour Department and reiterated some of the basic features of the migrant population, hailing largely from Odisha, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
A senior official of the department told The Hindu on Sunday that a single window voluntary registration would provide a unique identity to the migrant labourer and help the government to reach out as well as help the migrant labourers enjoy the benefits offered by the government.
He said previous efforts by various departments — Home, Health and Labour — to register them had failed. As a result, migrant labourers continued to live in harsh conditions, especially in places like Perumbavoor, where 10 to 12 people crowd a 200-sq. ft. room.
One of the most serious issues to be addressed is the housing needs for the domestic migrant population, the official said.
He warned of possible health hazards as migrant labourers do no have proper facilities for health checkups and disposal of domestic waste. Many of them use open bathrooms, causing waste water to reach open places or plunge into streams, resulting in pollution.
Perumbavoor and its adjoining panchayats like Vazhakkulam, Vengola, Rayamangalam, Asamannoor, Okkal, Koovappady and Kalady had some of the largest concentrations of migrant labour population in the State. Migrant labourers from Assam and West Bengal ran a supplementary economy in these areas, pointed out the official.
One of the highlights of the study is that the Tamil population, which used to be a major part of the migrant labour population in Kerala do not figure prominently. West Bengal accounts for the largest number of migrant labourers in Kerala, followed by Bihar, Assam and Orissa.
Workers from Tamil Nadu have not been listed in the State category but form part of the 23 per cent of ‘others’ in the study.
The dwindling Tamil migrant labour population in Kerala has been attributed to improvement in real wages in Tamil Nadu and the recent social welfare measures.
Keywords: migrant labourers